Cooper, 29, attended Bucs rookie camp over the weekend on a tryout basis. It was his first time working out for an NFL team since he was released by the Eagles in February of 2016, something he admitted he was surprised about.
Head coach Dirk Koetter acknowledged that he did do some things to get noticed.
"You could tell that he’s played," said Koetter. "You can tell that he’s played in the NFL and he’s played for a while. These guys -- obviously when you bring guys from a whole bunch of colleges, they’re a little bit nervous, and they’re learning a new system. I mean, he’s played football in the NFL. That stands out for sure."
Koetter made no mention Cooper’s incident involving a racial slur shouted at a concert security guard in 2013. Cooper addressed it Friday.
Cooper appeared in good shape and you could see his talent. He showed great body awareness when making a tip-toe catch along the left sideline on a deep ball. But then he dropped a short pass in one-on-ones -- one that you'd expect him to make -- and appeared visibly frustrated with himself. That kind of rust is expected
"Obviously, I didn’t feel 100 percent out there today," Cooper said. "One, my body [is] just kind of getting back into the routine of practicing and all that, and then it’s a new scheme, a completely new coaching staff and you’re thinking a lot and trying to move. It will take a little bit of getting used to ..."
The truth is, Cooper might have gotten a shot with the Bucs last season, but the team is deeper at wide receiver now, after signing DeSean Jackson in free agency and drafting Chris Godwin in the third round.
Cooper discussed his relationship with Jackson, a former Eagles teammate.
"DeSean is my buddy," Cooper said. "I’ve known him for seven years now and we have been through battles together in Philly, and tough games, battling a lot of people. And you become close as friends when your back is up against the wall, especially when you are in the same room spending hours upon hours with each other. He knows I love him."
Cooper was one of eight receivers who took part in rookie camp -- four of whom were there on a tryout -- and unless he put together a mind-blowing performance, he wasn't going to earn a camp invite.
"We’re going to take 11 guys to training camp, and it’s just a tougher group to crack," Koetter said. "I think of the tryout guys we have here, a couple of them look good but I don’t know if it’s going to be good enough to get them in the 11."
The Bucs have 11 wide receivers signed to their 90-man roster, including four who took part in rookie camp -- Jackson, Godwin, Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, Donteea Dye, Freddie Martino, Josh Huff, Bernard Reedy, Thomas Sperbeck, Derel Walker and Jesus "Bobo" Wilson.
So far, no tryout players from the three-day minicamp have been signed.